The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has published its annual FRSB Complaints Report, revealing that FRSB member charities recorded a total of 66,814 complaints about charity fundraising in 2015.
Charity fundraising complaints have risen from 2014 to 2015. Like-for-like analysis (based on a subset of 1,179 reporting charities) reveals a 6% rise in complaints over the past year.
The report establishes that 500 of the nation’s biggest fundraising charities are responsible for the vast majority (98%) of both fundraising activities and complaints, with nine in 10 small charities recording no complaints about their fundraising. Just 1% of reporting charities (all with a voluntary income of £10 million and over) generate six in ten complaints.
Addressed mail and telephone fundraising are the methods that attract the highest numbers of complaints, accounting for 60% of all fundraising complaints. The report finds that over a third (35%) of charity fundraising complaints were prompted by a general dislike of fundraising methods.
While many changes have been made to charity fundraising standards over the past 12 months – a stronger regulatory framework was introduced last week and the proposed Fundraising Preference Service will be rolled out later this year – the report emphasises the need for charities to ensure that supporters’ views remain central to all future fundraising approaches.
Commenting on the report findings, Andrew Hind, Chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: “While we must continually stress the essential need for charities to fundraise energetically and innovatively, charities must find ways to ensure that their fundraising approaches minimise any concern to the public. Fundraising should always be a positive experience that reflects the charity’s own values and the importance of its supporters.
“The public’s dislike of some fundraising methods highlights the need for charities to listen ever more carefully to supporter feedback and adapt their fundraising strategies in line with those views.
“2015 was a turning point in the relationship between charities and the UK public. During the year, the sector made many improvements to fundraising standards and a new regulatory structure is to be launched later this week. But in the end, charity fundraising will only achieve its potential and public trust be fully restored if charities ensure that their future fundraising is undertaken in a way which always commands the respect and approval of their supporters and the general public.”
The Fundraising Standards Board handed over its responsibilities to the new Fundraising Regulator on 7th July 2016. Commenting on the report, Stephen Dunmore, Acting Chief Executive of the new Fundraising Regulator, said: “Complaint monitoring is an important analytical tool to help regulators and fundraising practitioners alike understand where public concerns lie. As we pick up the reins for regulating charity fundraising, we recognise the critical importance of identifying and addressing concerns from the public. This will remain a key focus for self-regulation of fundraising. Without that overview, charities cannot re-build public confidence in their work and restore trust in the way that essential funds are raised.”
The top 10 fundraising methods that prompted complaint in 2015 were:
1. Addressed mail (27,089)
2. Telephone fundraising (13,322)
3. Doorstep face-to-face (8,497)
4. Clothing collections (5,342)
5. Email fundraising (2,441)
6. Outdoor events (1,634)
7. Private site face-to-face (1,359)
8. Lotteries (1,094)
9. Street face-to-face (1,033)
10. Raffles (855)